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Building back better? – negotiating normative boundaries of gender mainstreaming and post-tsunami reconstruction in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Indonesia


This article focuses on gender mainstreaming policies and advocacy on gender equality in the post-tsunami context in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. Through the analysis, this article illustrates how gender mainstreaming policy documents and gender advocacy of the provincial and central government, when drawing from sex/gender division and binary of genders, reproduce heteronormative boundaries. By focusing on details, I argue that the image of the heteronormative nuclear family participates in normalising other identity categories; such as urban and middle-class. I also provide examples of how simultaneous to the production of dominant norms, gender advocacy challenges heteronormativity and norms governing heterosexuality and actively question the dominant gender norms. Drawing from postcolonial feminist and recent queer critiques, I argue that advocacy that solely focuses on gender and/or sexuality reduces human bodies and their desires to simplistic stick figures. Thus, it remains blind to other forms of violence, such as global economic and political frameworks that define ‘building back better’ primarily as recovery and rehabilitation of economy, assets and labour force.

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1 Later referred to as the Beijing Conference.

2 Sally Baden and Anne Marie Goetz, ‘Who Needs [Sex] When You Can Have [Gender]? Conflicting Discourses on Gender at Beijing’, Feminist Review, 56:1 (1997), pp. 3–25.

3 See for example, Carolyn Hannan-Andersson, ‘Clarity on Concepts, Goals and Rationales: Key to Progress in Implementing the Mainstreaming Strategy’, paper presented at the conference Mainstreaming gender in policy and planning, South-North experience (Development Planning Unit, University College London, 28 June–1 July 1999, London).

4 Baden and Goetz, ‘Who Needs’, p. 11. Bracketing in the UN documents signals that it is disputed language, that there is no agreement on the appropriate use of the term or concept. See for example, Judith Butler, Undoing Gender (London: Routledge, 2004), pp. 187–8.

5 United Nations, ‘Report of the Informal Contact Group on Gender: Note by Secretariat’, United Nations, Fourth World Conference on Women, A/CONF.177/L.2, 7 July 1995.

6 Charlotte Bunch and Susana Fried, ‘Beijing '95: Moving Women's Human Rights from Margin to Center’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 22:1 (1996), p. 202.

7 B. J. D. Gayatri, ‘Indonesian lesbians writing their own script: issues of feminism and sexuality’, in Monika Reinfelder (ed.), Amazon to Zami: Towards a Global Lesbian Feminism (London: Cassell, 1996), p. 86.

8 See for example, Cynthia Rothschild, Scott Long and Susana T. Fried, Written Out: How Sexuality Is Used to Attack Women's Organising (New York: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Center for Women's Global Leadership, 2005), p. 84.

9 Quoted in Jennifer Chan-Tiberghien, ‘Poststructural Feminisms, Transnational Feminisms, and World Conference Against Racism’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 6:3 (2004), p. 476.

10 Manish Desai, ‘Transnationalism: the face of feminist politics post-Beijing’, International Social Science Journal, 57:184 (2005), p. 324.

11 Nivedita Menon (2009) has made an observation of the two parallel agendas: one focusing on women’s empowerment and equality between men and women in relation to state development activities, and the other as a critique of the heteronormative practices of states requesting for recognition of human rights for non-normative sexualities and genders. The latter is advocated through the UN Human Rights treaty bodies and most recently through General Assembly. However, these agendas are yet to meet and merge in relation to gender and development/disaster discourse and practice. See Nivedita Menon, ‘Sexuality, Caste, Governmentality: Contests Over 'Gender' in India’, Feminist Review, 91:1(2009), pp. 94–112.

12 See also Sonia E. Alvarez, ‘The Latin American Feminist’ NGO ‘Boom’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 1:2 (1999), pp. 181–209.

13 Gayatri Charkavorty Spivak, Other Asias (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008), pp. 16–18.

14 Sara Ahmed, ‘Who Knows? Knowing Strangers and Strangeness’, Australian Feminist Studies, 15:31(2000), pp. 49–68.

15 Tom Boellstorff, The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia (Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005).

16 Boellstorff, ‘The Gay Archipelago’.

17 See World Bank, ‘Indonesia's Debt and World Bank Assistance’ {}, 2007, accessed in May 2008 and website of Bureau for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of Aceh and Nias {}.

18 William B. Turner, A Genealogy of Queer Theory (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000).

19 Butler, ‘Undoing Gender’.

20 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986), p. 211.

21 Although I use concepts ‘post-tsunami’ and ‘post-conflict’ to mark the time after 26 December 2004 and 15 August 2005, I found this categorisation problematic as communities and locations are divided into tsunami and conflict victims/zones as if those boundaries could be drawn so clearly, and as if tsunami and conflict or their emotional and experiential landscapes were ‘over’ or ‘behind’.

22 President Suharto (1965–1998) was called ‘Father of Development’ and the New Order governments were also called as ‘Development Orders’. See for example, Ariel Heryanto, ‘The Development of “Development”’, Indonesia, 46 (Oct 1988), p. 11.

23 See for example, Heryanto ‘The Development’ and John Bowen, ‘On the Political Construction of Tradition: Gotong Royong in Indonesia’, Journal of Asian Studies, 45:3 (1986), pp. 545–61.

24 Michelle Anne Miller, ‘What's Special about Special Autonomy in Aceh?’, in Anthony Reid (ed.), Verandah of Violence: The Background to the Aceh Problem (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2006), pp. 295–9. The same debate on shari’a law implementation and investment culture has continued in the post-tsunami setting. See for example, Jakarta Post articles in September 2007.

25 Minister of Women's Empowerment, The Manual of Implementation Guidelines on Gender Mainstreaming in National Development as an annex of Circular of Minister for Women's Empowerment no. B-89/Men.PP/Dep.II/IX/2002, September 2002.

26 Further of the connections between gender mainstreaming policies and neoliberalism, see Tanya Lyons, Jayne Curnow and Glenda Mather, ‘Developing Gender Mainstreaming and ‘Gender Respect’, Development Bulletin, 64 (2004), pp. 37–41, and Jacqui True, ‘Mainstreaming Gender in Global Public Policy’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 5:3(2003), pp. 368–96.

27 Asima Yanty Siahaan, The Politics of Gender and Decentralization in Indonesia (Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, Open Society Institute, 2003), pp. 22, 26–7 and Henk Schulte Nordholt and Gerry van Klinken, ‘Introduction’, in Henk Schulte Nordholt and Gerry van Klinken (eds ), Renegotiating Boundaries: Local Politics in Post-Suharto Indonesia (Leiden: KITLV Press, 2007), pp. 1–29.

28 See for example, Butler, ‘Undoing Gender’.

29 President of the Republic of Indonesia, Peraturan Presiden Republik Indonesia Nomor 39 tahun 2005 tentang rencana kerja pemerintah tahun 2006 [Presidental Regulation Number 39 year 2005 on the government's action plan for year 2006] and Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board, ‘Mengenal BRA, Sejarah BRA [To get to know BRA, History of BRA]’ {}, 2007, accessed in April 2008.

30 United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Asia and the Pacific Beijing +10: Selected Issues. Presentations from 2004 High-Level Intergovernmental Meeting to Review Regional Implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action and its Regional and Global Outcomes (New York, 2005).

31 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991 [1983]). Benedict Anderson is also an important contributor to the existing literature on queer and LBGT issues in Indonesia, but usually this work is less known in the IR literature. By LBGT I refer to lesbian, bi, gay, transgender subjectivities that are used by the self-defined LGBT groups.

32 Yusny Saby, Islam and Social Change: The Role of the Ulama in Acehnese Society (Bangi: Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 2005), p. 17.

33 See further, for example, John R. Bowen, ‘The New Anthropology of Ethnicity and Identity – and why it matters for Aceh and Indonesia’, presented at the First International Conference of Aceh and Indian Ocean Studies, 24–26 February 2007, Banda Aceh.

34 See further, for example, Jacqueline Aquino Siapno, Gender, Islam, Nationalism and the State in Aceh: The Paradox of Power, Co-optation and Resistance (London: Routledge Curzon, 2002); Susan Blackburn, Women and the State in Modern Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) and John R. Bowen, Islam, Law and Equality in Indonesia: An anthropology of public reasoning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). An important economic and political element of the independence struggle has been the dissatisfaction in Aceh towards the low returns of the revenues from oil and natural gas reserves discovered in 1971 in North Aceh. See Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Groups’ reports of the linkage between natural resources, economic interests of the military and human rights violations in Aceh.

35 Troy Johnson, Voices from Aceh: Perspectives on Syariat Law (Hong Kong: Southeast Asia Research Centre, City University of Hong Kong, Working Paper Series No. 97, November 2007), and Edriana Noerdin, ‘Women in the Decentralized Aceh’, in Edriana Noerdin and Sita Aripurnami (eds), Decentralization as a Narrative of Opportunity for Women in Indonesia, (Jakarta: Women Research Institute, 2007), pp. 173–217.

36 Gender Working Group (Kelombok Kerja Gender), Evaluasi situasi perempuan tahun 2006 di Aceh ‘[Evaluation of the Situation of Women in Aceh Year 2006]’ (March 8, 2007), p. 14. Many international organisations support initiatives that aim to ‘engender’ shari’a implementation, however it is important to note that thee is not only one feminist interpretation of Islam. Normative boundaries of feminist interpretation seem to divide gender advocates.

37 Edriana Noerdin, ‘Women in the Decentralized Aceh’.

38 Johnson, ‘Voices from Aceh’, pp. 3–5.

39 Butler, ‘Undoing Gender’, p. 58.

40 Ibid., p. 41.

41 Samuel A. Chambers and Terrell Carver, Judith Butler and Political Theory: Troubling Politics (Oxon: Routledge, 2008), p. 56.

42 Johanna Kantola and Johanna Valenius, ‘Maailmanpolitiikka [World Politics]’, in Johanna Kantola and Johanna Valenius (eds), Toinen maailmanpolitiikka: 10 käsitettä feministisen kansainvälisen suhteiden tutkimukseen [Other World Politics: 10 Concepts of the Feminist Reseach of the International Relations], (Tallinna: Vastapaino, 2007) pp. 9–34.

43 Cornwall, Andrea, Sonia Corrêa and Susie Jolly, ‘Development with a body: making the connections between sexuality, human rights and development’, in Andrea Cornwall, Sonia Corrêa and Susie Jolly (eds), Development with a Body: Sexuality, Human Rights & Development (London: Zed Books, 2008), pp. 1–21.

44 Some scholars locate the emergence of the word ‘jender’ or ‘gender’ into the Indonesian vocabulary after introduction of the English concept by Asia Foundation and Ford Foundation in early 1990s. These days it is an integral part of taught Women and Gender studies, and widely used by the women’s NGOs. See for example, Rachel Rinaldo, ‘Contesting Womanhood in Two Indonesian Islamic Organizations’, Antropologi Indonesia 30:1 (2006), pp. 21–35.

45 Bureau for Women’s Empowerment, Apa itu gender: kesetaraan dan keadilan [This is gender: equality and justice]’, Secretariat of the Province of the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, p. 1–3 and Sylvia Tiwon, ‘Models and Maniacs: Articulating the Female in Indonesia’, in Laurie J. Sears (ed.), Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia (London: Duke University Press, 1996), pp. 47–70 especially p. 48.

46 Saskia E. Wieringa, ‘The Birth of the New Order State in Indonesia. Sexual Politics and Nationalism’, Journal of Women's History, 15:1 (2003), p. 72; Saskia E. Wieringa, Sexual Politics in Indonesia (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), p. 35; Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, ‘Gender and Pluralism in Indonesia’, in Robert W. Hefner (ed.), The Politics of Multiculturalism: Pluralism and Citizenship in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001), pp. 256–60.

47 Zubaidah Djohar, ‘Meretas Keadilan, Membangun Keseimbangan’ [‘Opening up Justice, Developing Balance’,] in Fajran Zain and Saiful Mahdi (eds), Timang. Aceh Perempuan Kesetaraan [Cuddling: Aceh, Women, Equality] (Banda Aceh: Aceh Institute Press, 2008), pp. 95–105.

48 Moya Lloyd, Beyond Identity Politics (London: Sage Publications, 2005), p. 25.

49 Butler, ‘Gender Trouble’, p. 208, footnote 6.

50 Jean Carabine, ‘Heterosexuality and social policy’, in Diane Richardson (ed.), Theorising Heterosexuality (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1996), especially pp. 59–60.

51 Butler, ‘Gender Trouble’, pp. xx–xxii; Chambers and Carver, ‘Judith Butler’, pp. 78, 81.

52 Leena-Maija Rossi, Heterotehdas: Televisiomainonta sukupuolituotantona [Hetero factory: TV Advertisements as Production of Gender] (Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2003), p. 120.

53 See for example, Devi Jackson, ‘Heterosexuality, Sexuality and Gender: Rethinking the Intersections’ in Diane Richardson, Janice McLaughlin and Mark E. Casey (eds), Intersections Between Feminist and Queer Theory (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), pp. 38–58. For example, Butlers work has been read as if it assumes stable ‘system of heterosexuality’, yet Gender Trouble refers to possibilities of resignifying heterosexuality and critiques Monique Wittig of assuming normative constructs as total and unchangeable. See Butler, ‘Gender Trouble’, p. 154. I thank Leena-Maija Rossi and her numerous articles in Finnish that provide light on this aspect.

54 Ibid and Diane Richardson, ‘Heterosexuality and social theory’, in Diane Richardson (ed.), Theorising Heterosexuality (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1996), pp. 1–20 especially, pp. 2–9.

55 See for example, Abha Bhaiya and Saskia E. Wieringa, Manual on Sexual Rights and Sexual Empowerment (Jagori, APIK and Kartini Network, 2007).

56 See narration of the history of queer studies for example, Turner, ‘Genealogy’.

57 See for example, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres (eds), Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991); Kimberley Crenshaw, ‘Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color’, Stanford Law Review, 43:6 (1991), pp. 1241–99; and Ann Phoenix and Pamela Pattynama, ‘Editorial: Intersectionality’, European Journal of Women's Studies, 13:3 (2006), pp. 187–92.

58 See critique of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality in Ann Laura Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault's History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things (London: Duke University Press, 1995) and Ann Laura Stoler Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (London: University of California Press, 2002).

59 See for example, critique on queer liberalism in David L. Eng, Judith Halberstam and José Esteban Muñoz, ‘Introduction: What's Queer About Queer Studies Now?’, Social Text 23:3–4 (2005), pp. 1–17.

60 Judith Halberstam, ‘What's That Smell?: Queer Temporalities and Subcultural Lives’, The Scholar and Feminist Online (Issue 2.1, Summer 2003), {}.

61 Eng et al, ‘What’s Queer’, p. 1–3.

62 Joseph A. Massad, Desiring Arabs (London: The University of Chicago Press, 2007), pp. 160–3, 416.

63 Boellstorff, ‘The Gay Archipelago’, p. 5.

64 Ibid, but also Tom Boellstorff, ‘Playing Back the Nation: Waria, Indonesian Transvestites’, Cultural Anthropology, 19:2 (2004), pp. 159–95 and Tom Boellstorff, ‘Gay and Lesbian Indonesians and the Idea of the Nation’, Social Analysis, 50:1 (2006), pp. 158–63.

65 Sara Ahmed, Difference that Matter: Feminist Theory and Postmodernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 17.

66 Butler, ‘Undoing Gender’, p. 215.

67 Chambers and Carver, ‘Judith Butler’, pp. 129, 134.

68 Butler, ‘Undoing Gender’, p. 182; see Baden and Goetz, ‘Who Needs’ for detailed discussion on the debates on the concept gender in Beijing.

69 See further on examples M. B. Hooker, Indonesian Syariah. Defining a National School of Islamic Law (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008), pp. 25–6, and Greg Fealey & Virginia Hooker (eds), Voices of Islam in Southeast Asia (Singpore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006), pp. 148–9, 348–52, and Danial, Seri Makalah Diskusi 1: Islam, CEDAW dan Perlindungan Hak Perempuan [Discussion Paper Series 1: Islam, CEDAW and Protection of Women's Rights] (United Nations Development Fund for Women, East and Southeast Asia Regional Office, 2008).

70 Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias (BRR), Policy and Strategy Paper: Promoting Gender Equality in the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Process of Aceh and Nias (2006). Nias refers to an island south of the island of Sumatra and part of the province of North Sumatra that suffered from earthquake in March 2005. Between 2005–2009 the reconstruction efforts for both Aceh and Nias are coordinated through BRR.

71 Office of the State Minister for the Role of Women, Indonesia National Plan of Action: Follow-up of the Fourth World Conference one Women, 4–15 September 1995, pp. 3–4.

72 On the relationship between community-based organisations and neoliberalism in the Indonesian context see for example, Tanya Murray Li, The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics (London: Durham University Press, 2007).

73 Since 2008, the tasks of the Bureau for Women’s Empowerment is covered by the Agency for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection.

74 See further on uniforms for example, Saya S. Shiraishi, Young Heroes: The Indonesian Family in Politics (Itacha: Cornell University, Southeast Asia Program, 2000 [1997]) and John R. Bowen, Muslims Through Discourse: Religion and Ritual in Gayo Society (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993) on introduction of Indonesian dress in the 1930s.

75 Siaahan, ‘The Politics of Gender’, p. 9.

76 See for example, Pieternella van Doorn-Harder, Women Shaping Islam: Reading the Qur'an in Indonesia (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006), pp. 114–5.

77 United Nations, World Conference of the International Women's Year: Declaration of Mexico on the Equality of Women and Their Contribution to Development and Peace (United Nations, E/CONF.66/34, 2 July 1975), para 5.

78 Krishna Sen, ‘Indonesian women at Work: Reframing the subject’, In Krishna Sen and Maila Stivens (eds), Gender and Power in Affluent Asia (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 44.

79 Sylvia Tiwon, ‘Reconstructing Boundaries and Beyond’, in Juliette Koning, Marleen Nolten, Janet Rodenburg and Ratna Saptari (eds), Women and Households in Indonesia: Cultural Notions and Social Practices (Richmond: Curzon Press, 2000), p. 73.

80 Shiraishi, ‘Young Heroes’, p. 164.

81 Madelon Djajadiningrat-Nieuwenhuis, ‘Ibuism and priyayization: Path to power?’, in Elsbeth Locher-Scholten and Anke Niehof (eds), Indonesian Women in Focus: Past and Present Notions (Leiden: KITLV Press, 1992 [1987]), pp. 43–51 and Julia I. Suryakusuma, ‘The State and Sexuality in New Order Indonesia’, in Laurie J. Sears (ed.), Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia (London: Duke University Press, 1996), pp. 92–119.

82 Sen, ‘Indonesian Women’, p. 45.

83 Garuda, a mythical bird and a mount of Vishnu is a national symbol of Republic of Indonesia. The bird grips a scroll with a text ‘unity in diversity, and has a shield on it’s chest representing the five principles of the constitution: belief in one God, just and civilised humanity, unity of Indonesia, deliberative democracy, and social justice.

84 President of the Republic of Indonesia, Presiden Republik Indonesia, Sambutan Peringatan Hari Ibu ke-78 [Speech on the commemorating 78th Mother's Day]’ (2006).

85 See for example, Saskia E. Wieringa, ‘A Reflection on Power and the Gender Empowerment Measure of the UNDP’, in Saskia E. Wieringa (ed.), Workshop on GDI/GEM Indicators, The Hague, 13–18 January 1997 (Institute of Social Studies, Report 1–19, 1997), and Saskia E. Wieringa, ‘Measuring Women's Empowerment: Developing a Global Tool’, in Tanh-Dam Truong, Saskia E. Wieringa and Amrita Chhachhi (eds), Engendering Human Security: Feminist Perspectives (London: Zed Books, 2006), pp. 211–33.

86 See for example, van Doorn-Harder, Women Shaping Islam: Reading the Qur’an in Indonesia (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006).

87 Elsbeth Locher-Scholten, Women and the Colonial State: Essays on Gender and Modernity in the Netherlands Indies 1900–1942 (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2000), pp. 70–1.

88 See for example, Lila Abu-Lughod, ‘The Marriage of Feminism and Islamism in Egypt: Selective Repudiation as a Dynamic of Postcolonial Cultural Politics’, in Lila Abu-Lughod (ed.), Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), pp. 243–69 especially p. 260.

89 See for example, Siapno, ‘Gender, Islam, Nationalism’; Chandra Jayawardena, ‘Women and Kinship in Aceh Besar, Northern Sumatra’, Ethnology, 16:1(1977), pp. 21–38.

90 President of the Republic of Indonesia, Instruction of the President of the Republic of Indonesia number 9 year 2000 concerning gender mainstreaming in the national development, p. 1, Office of the State Minister for the Role of Women, ‘Indonesia National Plan of Action’, pp. 3–4.

91 Sharyn Graham, ‘Negotiating Gender: Calalai' in Bugis Society’, Intersections, 6 August (2001), p. 13; see also Saskia E. Wieringa, ‘Ibu or the Beast: Gender Interests in Two Indonesian Women's Organisations’, Feminist Review, 41 (Summer 1992), p. 110.

92 See for example, Bhaiya and Wieringa, ‘Manual on Sexual Rights’.

93 Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction for Aceh and Nias, ‘Policy and Strategy Paper’, p. 21.

94 See for example, Laura Shepherd, ‘Veiled References. Constructions of Gender in the Bush Administration Discourse on the Attacks on Afghanistan Post-9/11’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 8:1(2006), pp. 19–41.

95 See detailed reporting by Amnesty International, or Human Rights Watch.

96 Tiwon, ‘Reconstructing Boundaries’, p. 83, footnote 14. See also Sen, ‘Indonesian Women’.

97 Waria, a word for male to female transgendered people, derives from the words wanita/woman, and pria/man. See for example, Dèdè Oetomo, ‘Gender and Sexual Orientation in Indonesia’, in Laurie J. Sears (ed.), Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia (London: Duke University Press, 1996) and Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, ‘“Bullshit!” S/he said: The Happy, Modern, Sexy, Indonesian Married Woman as Transsexual’, in Laurie J. Sears (ed.), Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia (London: Duke University Press, 1996).

98 Gender Working Group, ‘Evaluation of the Situation of Women in Aceh’.

99 AK News, ‘Perempuan Aceh Minta Keadilan.’ [Acehnese Women ask for justice] {, 8 March 2007}.

100 It is important to note, however, that the same public visibility is not available for other groups within diverse LGBT community in Aceh. See further on unequal visibility Boellstorff, ‘Playing Back’ and Saskia E. Wieringa, ‘Communism and women's same-sex practices in post-Suharto Indonesia’, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 2:4(2000), pp. 441–57.

101 See further for example, Amnesty International, Indonesia (Aceh): Torture of gay men by the Banda Raya police (ASA 21/004/2007) and Asian Human Rights Commission, INDONESIA: Brutal torture and sexual abuse by the Banda Raya police (AHRC-UAU-060–2008). Further, the law on pornography was passed in December 2008 in which necrophilia, bestiality, oral sex, anal sex, and lesbian and gay sex is defined as ‘deviant sexual intercourse’. The law has been strongly opposed by several civil society organisations, including the LBGT activists.

102 Indonesian-English Dictionary, {} accessed in December 2008, see also Kaleen E. Love, ‘The Politics of Gender in a Time of Change: Gender Discourses, Institutions and Identities in Contemporary Indonesia’, PhD Thesis, Department of International Development (Oxford: Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University, 2007), p. 115.

103 Ibid., p.114–5.

104 Siapno, ‘Gender, Islam, Nationalism’.

105 See Blackburn, ‘Women and the State’; Suryakusuma, ‘The State and Sexuality’; Sen, ‘Indonesian Women at Work’ and Djajadiningrat-Nieuwenhuis, ‘Ibuism and priyayization’.

106 Gender mailing list, 7 January 2008.

107 Blackburn, ‘Women and the State’, p. 141.

108 Documentation of discrimination faced by ‘single mothers’ is done extensively by several local women’s organisations focusing on violence against women and legal assistance.

109 Yoni is Sanskrit and which as been translated to mean divine passage, place of birth, womb, but also vagina and non-reproductive sex organs.

110 I thank Giti Thadani for the introduction to the feminist reading of the Hindu temple carvings and garuda bird in Bali in November 2008. See further, for example, Giti Thadani, Sakhiyani: Lesbian Desire in Ancient and Modern India (London: Cassell, 1996).

111 I thank Christine Sylvester for pointing this out at the BISA workshop in Manchester 2008. See further, Chandra Talpade Mohanty,‘ “Under Western Eyes” Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through Anticapitalist Struggles’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28:2(2002), pp. 499–535.

112 See Amanda Wittman’s article in this issue regarding neoliberal state and gender mainstreaming.

113 Siapno, ‘Gender, Islam, Nationalism’, p. 198.

114 Sara Ahmed, ‘A phenomenology of whiteness’, Feminist Theory, 8:2 (2007), pp. 149–68, especially p. 165.

115 Mohanty, ‘Under Western Eyes Revisited’, p. 501.

* The author wishes to acknowledge financial support of the European Community under the Marie Curie Early Stage Research Training Programme and the Academy of Finland project ‘Gendered Agency in Conflict’. Earlier versions of this article have been presented at the BISA Gendering IR workshop ‘Violence, Bodies, Selves: Feminist Engagements in International Politics’, in May 2008 at the University of Manchester, and the 2nd Kartini Asia Network Conference ‘The Future of Asian Feminisms Confronting Fundamentalism, Conflict and Neoliberalism’ in November 2008 in Bali, Indonesia.

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